Written as part of a music prompt game. The prompt was “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by the Fugees.
Friday night was karaoke night, with half-price burgers and half-a-dozen varieties of microbrew. If any of the group was dateless–and there were just enough weeks when this happened to keep it interesting–they would meet at the bar and start their weekend with good company and good food, eating and singing and dancing until the bartender (Pat tonight, with a chest like a brick wall and hands as big as shovels) said last call.
Trent was usually not dateless. Trent usually had some beautiful creature wrapped around him if he put in a token appearance, or a story to tell the next morning at brunch if he didn’t. But even in his whirlwind social life he sometimes wanted to spend time with his friends, even if it meant listening to drunken strangers belt out progressively off-key renditions of outdated pop songs.
Lubrication helped make the singing endurable, and his friends were in good moods tonight, bopping in their chairs or even getting up on the stage to stumble through a few torch songs themselves. It seemed like a good crowd, too, and Aron pointed out a few regulars (that Aron was coming here enough to know who the regulars were told Trent he needed to find Aron a boyfriend, pronto) who could be counted on to deliver a good performance.
“Are you going to get up and sing?” Aron asked him, and Trent shook his head as he swallowed a mouthful of beer.
“I’m not a singer. I’ll just listen and critique.”
Aron laughed, patted Trent’s knee and sat back to watch the next singer.
“Let ‘s hear it for Malcolm!” said the DJ as the man mounted the little stage. Trent barely glanced at the new face — and then did a double take, dumbstruck. The man looked like he’d stepped down from a billboard or out of a painting — a true classical profile, with thoughtful grey eyes and tousled black hair and a smile that was both shy and playful as the music started.
“Is he a regular?” Trent whispered to Aron.
“I’ve never seen him before,” Aron whispered as the man — Malcolm, the DJ had said his name was Malcolm — opened his mouth and began to sing. Even his voice was beautiful, rich and sweet, easily dipping for the low notes and sliding up for the high ones, singing as naturally as most people breathed.
Trent couldn’t take his eyes off Malcolm, not the way he flipped his curly hair behind his ear, not the slouched angle of his hips, not the shuffling dance he did during an instrumental break between verses. A voice like an angel, looks to match, and didn’t take himself too seriously — how could this man be real?
Trent wasn’t the only one to leap to his feet when Malcolm finished his song and took a bow, and several heads turned to watch Malcolm go to the bar and perch on a stool. Aron leaned close to Trent and whispered, “If you want to meet him I’d move fast. He could have anybody in this bar.”
“No kidding,” Trent said and stood. He worked his way through the other patrons, some of them as intent on Malcolm as he was, to the bar and leaned between Malcolm and the man on the stood beside him. Malcolm was drinking something clear and sparkly through a straw, and smiled at Trent.
“You’re gorgeous,” Trent said bluntly and Malcolm laughed.
“Does that line usually work for you?”
“No,” Trent admitted. “But a laugh is a good start. My name’s Trent.”
“I know. I heard you sing.”
“You and everybody else in this bar.”
“But that’s why you did it, didn’t you? To be applauded.”
Malcolm shrugged, attention on his mug. “Everybody likes attention now and then.”
Trent inhaled, then straightened so he wasn’t leaning on the bar. “This is going to sound ridiculous, and I’m sure you hear it all the time, but I can’t stop looking at you, and I want to touch you, and I should leave you alone but I — I should leave you alone.”
He started to move away when something stopped him. A hand on his wrist. Malcolm’s hand on his wrist. He looked up and their eyes met, and Malcolm was smiling.
“I can’t keep my eyes off of you, either.”